Home : Technical Terms : White Balance Definition

White Balance

White balance is a feature many digital cameras and video cameras use to accurately balance color. It defines what the color white looks like in specific lighting conditions, which also affects the hue of all other colors. Therefore, when the white balance is off, digital photos and recordings may appear to have a certain hue cast over the image. For example, fluorescent lights may cause images to have a greenish hue, while pictures taken on a cloudy day may have a blue tint.

Since different types of lighting affect the way a camera's sensor captures color, most digital cameras and camcorders include an auto white balance (AWB) setting. The AWB setting automatically adjusts the white balance when capturing a photo or recording video. However, this setting may not always provide the most accurate color. Therefore, many cameras and camcorders also include preset white balance settings for different lighting conditions. Common options include fluorescent light, tungsten light (for typical indoor lighting), cloudy conditions, bright sunlight, and camera flash. By choosing the appropriate white balance preset, you may be able to capture pictures with more accurate color.

Some high-end cameras and camcorders also include a custom white balance option. This feature allows you to take a sample of a white object, such as a white wall or a piece of paper, within the current lighting conditions. By manually setting the white balance to the white color within the sample image, you can set the white balance with a high degree of accuracy. Of course, if you find out you have already taken several photos with the incorrect white balance setting, you can adjust the color afterwards with an image editing program.

Some digital video cameras also include a "black balance" setting, which is used to define how black should appear in the current lighting conditions. However, this setting is used far less commonly than white balance.

Updated: August 30, 2010

Cite this definition:


TechTerms - The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

This page contains a technical definition of White Balance. It explains in computing terminology what White Balance means and is one of many technical terms in the TechTerms dictionary.

All definitions on the TechTerms website are written to be technically accurate but also easy to understand. If you find this White Balance definition to be helpful, you can reference it using the citation links above. If you think a term should be updated or added to the TechTerms dictionary, please email TechTerms!

Subscribe to the TechTerms Newsletter to get featured terms and quizzes right in your inbox. You can choose to receive either a daily or weekly email.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe at any time.
Questions? Please contact us.